By Senior Airman Stephen Underwood , 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 27, 2020
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Camelia Valentin, a 439th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, protects national monuments and federally protected buildings in New York City. Valentin joined the Air Force in 2019 to pursue a career in aviation as a maintainer and future pilot. (Courtesy photo)
Joining the military is a big decision for many young recruits, but for some it is a no-brainer.
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Camelia Valentin, a 439th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, grew up with a fascination for everything aviation. As a young child, she wondered how large planes could lift off and sail through the air.
“I always had an interest in planes,” said Valentin. “I always saw myself in one someday.”
She also skydives for fun to just “be up in the air” and believes the rush you get from being off the ground is unlike any other.
Valentin enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserve in 2019 and graduated from technical school at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware in January.
As a new airman, Valentin said she is excited to begin her military career and while the COVID-19 pandemic created difficulties, she remained focused on the mission.
“It’s been a challenge since I just graduated from tech school and was looking forward to being hands-on with the aircraft,” she said. “But I’m really looking forward to the future ahead.”
Valentin’s goal is to move from working on aircraft to flying them.
“Ultimately, my goal is to be a pilot,” she said. “I took lessons a few years back and that is what I’m working towards. That’s the dream.”
Valentin said she chose a career in AMXS because of the ability to work and be around aircraft every day.
“I love how hands-on it is,” she said. “Even though I have to commute from New Jersey to Massachusetts, it’s worth it because I get to be around aircraft.”
Valentin admits she has no maintenance background and had to learn everything about the job during tech school, but relishes in the opportunity.
“I’m up for the challenge,” she said. “Not having any experience or background knowledge is exciting because it’s something new.”
When not on duty, Valentin trades her military uniform for a police officer’s.
In her civilian career, Valentin is a federal officer assigned to the New York field office and safeguards our nation’s treasures. She protects national monuments and federally protected buildings, including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Brooklyn and Staten Island in New York City.
“I enjoy it,” said Valentin. “It’s a good job and I get to experience protecting some of our most valuable treasures.”
While COVID-19 continues to create uncertainties for both her civilian and military career, she remains resolute in her optimism for the future.
“I’m so glad I joined,” said Valentin. “At some point, I want to deploy, and I can’t wait to begin working with aircraft. It is all so exciting.”